Government // Enterprise Architecture
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9/28/2009
02:04 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
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Global CIO: An Open Letter To Oracle CEO Larry Ellison

Oracle customers hear a lot from you about your competitors, but rarely do they hear how you feel about them and what your vision and strategy for them is. You're missing a huge opportunity.

First, when you talked about cloud computing, you chose to make fun of the term—and that's fine, it is indeed a nebulous name that's become so broad it's hard to grasp. On the flip side, you had a great chance to say, "Here's how we at Oracle are going to remove some of that confusion" and lay out the Oracle solution. You could have said, "No matter what somebody wants to call it, here are the three major ways that Oracle and its partners are going to use the underlying technologies to drive huge business value for you." It's easy to make fun of the name and the tech industry's jargon—heck, you've been doing it publicly for at least the last year with regard to cloud, SaaS, and more—so it would have been nice to see you step above the word games and commit to what that all means for creating business value for your customers so that they can in turn use the millions of dollars they've invested in Oracle products to create business value for their customers.

And finally, your point about the decade-long transition from the traditional on-premises model to the emergent on-demand model. You said this transition will take 10 years—why 10 years? Why not seven, or five, or three? When you spoke early in the event about how your sailboat uses materials that are more advanced than that found in most aircraft, I doubt any of your suppliers told you, "Yes, Larry, we can create that new type of material in the designs you want, but it'll take 10 years because it's difficult, it's complicated, and it's engineering-intensive."

So if the transition from what your CIO customers currently have to what more and more of them want will take 10 years, it would have been nice for you to lay out that timetable with a few details about why it will take a decade. Make the case to them, Larry: it'll take 10 years because that's how long it will take our development teams and our engineering teams to deliver the infrastructure to handle multitenant hosting, or that's how long it'll take to lock down the new types of security, or that's how long it will take us to solve the complex data-migration issues.

Or, tell them it will take that long for Oracle to convince Wall Street that the move from on-premise licenses to on-demand subscriptions is a viable and inevitable transition. They may not like that answer, but they can't possibly dislike it any more than they dislike the current silence as they deal with their own version of uncertainty, the issue you put front and center with Sun.

So thanks for your time, and don't ever underestimate the power of your words and your perspectives on your CIO customers, all of whom have so very much invested in not just your products but your vision, your strategy, and your impressions of them. I hope you will speak to them more often and in more detail, Larry, because it could be extremely valuable to them which means it would be even more valuable to Oracle.

Sincerely,

Bob

GlobalCIO Bob Evans is senior VP and director of InformationWeek's Global CIO unit.

To find out more about Bob Evans, please visit his page.

For more Global CIO perspectives, check out Global CIO,
or write to Bob at bevans@techweb.com.

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